For those of you who have the, shall we say, good fortune, of working with me, it will come as quite a surprise to find that I did not always have the personality that I do today. In fact, much of my outgoing style at work is really an act. Growing up, I was very shy and also withdrawn. By nature, I am an introvert. I have to work very hard to overcome that. Sure I can be the life of the party now, but much of that is an attempt to overcome what I see as my own personal shortcomings, which are numerous. I am sure if you asked my little redhead, she could give you a list! (I jest, of course.)
As a child I found my escape through the written word. Just as I can with music, I can also tell you which books I read that had an impact on my life. I'll never forget readings Rifles for Watie, a children's Civil War novel, when I was in fourth grade. I would often read in class and at first, the teacher's would chastise me for it, but then they gave up and let me! Sure I played football outside with the kids in the neighborhood, but that was not where my true passion lay. I could not wait to escape into my room where I could open a book and discover a new world. To be more accurate since my passion was historical fiction, I should say to discover a world that existed prior to my own. When I was in fifth grade, my teacher Mrs. Simonsen made us a write a journal entry and say what we wanted to be when we grew up. I wrote a page detailing my plan to be a writer. Alas, I have failed in that plan.
My life took me in other directions. In a way, I spent a lot of time running away from myself. Though I enjoyed my time as a firefigher and a police officer, and I was d--n good at it, my heart was never fully with it. History and the written word were still inexplicably linked in my mind. Standing in front of a classroom gives me just as much of an adrenaline rush as making a fast attack on a structure fire or getting in a vehicle pursuit. So does writing. I wrote my first novel in high school. Handwritten, mind you. I did so after reading Piece of Cake by Derek Robinson. It is a freaking awesome novel about British fighter pilots in the early months of World War 2. In fact, ALL of his novels are good. I don't think they are still in print, but you can get them cheaply from Amazon if you don't mind used copies. Do it today! You won't be sorry. Piece of Cake was also made into a mini-series by the BBC, but read the book first. Those of you who are military aviation enthusiasts like me will NOT be sorry! His has several WW2 and WW1 novels. All are good, but he is a relatively unknown writer. What he can do with the English language defies all attempts to describe it. You'll just have to read it and find out for yourselves.
I lack the drive anymore to finish any of the novels that I have in progress. I'm too busy trying to eek out a living and also deal with chronic pain. Maybe one day, but I doubt it. I still try but it is hard. Luckily others write novels that I can read. Plus, I have my blog which is a lot more difficult than it may look. I live in a 900 square foot house with about 1800 books and 5 cats! It gets a little crowded at times. I add anywhere for 50-100 books per year depending on how much money I make that year. If things get rough financially, which they often do now, then I have a library just a few blocks away. As long as I have books (and cats) in my life, I'm happy. Happier still if my little redhead is with me. Who knows, maybe I'll finish either my Civil War novel or my WW2 novel one day. Maybe.
Here are my favorite novels by subject:
Civil War: The Black Flower, Paradise Alley
WW1: Losing Julia (Everyone should read that one!), Goshawk Squadron
WW2: Piece of Cake (Read this today!), Bomber (Len Deighton's masterpiece), Das Boot, Love and Hate (sort of a War and Peace type novel by Vasily Grossman)
My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Half A$$ Historian. Why? Because sometimes you can learn more from good historical fiction than you can from boring textbooks or monographs by professor who can't write!
I'd rather be reading.